Vacancy First Reviews: “From Potter to Potty-Mouth”

The Day Before the Publication Bulletin:

(1) Joanne Rowling appears on ABC Television’s ‘Good Morning America’ program to discuss the new novel and her life experiences that inform the work.

The book marks a new literary direction for Rowling, who has made a name for herself with her wildly popular Harry Potter series. Completely leaving her signature realm of fantasy behind, the book is grounded in the real-world and incorporates popular teen culture. The Rihanna song, “Umbrella,” featuring Jay Z, plays a very prominent role in the story.

“The song’s just perfect for the book because of the rap at the beginning. There’s this rap that Jay Z does at the beginning of the song and it’s actually a very celebratory rap,” said Rowling. “It’s saying, ‘I’m shockproof ….I’m famous, I have money, let the Dow Jones fall, I’m OK,’ and it’s said in the book by a girl who doesn’t really understand the words and who is not OK. It’s very poignant to me that this girl doesn’t understand.”

Rowling has discussed her bouts with depression, even revealing that she felt suicidal in her early life. However, this is the first time she has spoken publically about her struggles as a teenager with an obsessive compulsive disorder. It was an experience, she says, that informed part of the story in her new book.

“We have an adult character in the book who has obsessive compulsive disorder [OCD],” she said, “These are things I know from the inside. … When I was in my teens I had issues with OCD.”

For Rowling, the anxiety disorder manifested itself as “compulsions” – “checking, double checking, triple checking” things, she said.

As for her depression, she says it has not been part of her life for “more than a decade,” attributing part of that to the tremendous success of Harry Potter.

(2) The New York Daily News breaks the news embargo (of sorts) to publish a highly critical review: ‘No Magic, but Full of Unforgettable Profanity.’ Excerpt after the jump. [Read more…]

Casual Vacancy Foreplay: The Pre-Publication Interviews

Yesterday it was The Guardian, today we have The New Yorker profile, and tomorrow it will be USA Today — contracted interviews with Joanne Rowling about her new novel The Casual Vacancy and profiles written by writers who have spoken with her, read advance copies of the book, and done their homework. The New Yorker profile by Ian Parker, ‘Mugglemarch,’ is an especially rewarding read (?) even for Potter fans who couldn’t be less interested in Vacancy.

Are there spoilers? Yes, indeed, there are but not of the story’s ending or major plot points. Most of the ‘spoilage’ is in sharing throw away references to wrinkled cleavage, used condoms, and an expectant vagina you wouldn’t expect in a Hogwarts novel. Please share your thoughts pre-publication below alongside whatever plans you have for purchasing and reading Vacancy, if you have any.

UPDATE Monday: The USA Today Interview and Profile Ms. Rowling says she has written a “novelly novel” after her favorite 19th Century models — Dickens, Trollope, others. Another good read!

UPDATE IIsday: Fellow Potter Pundit James Thomas is quoted in today’s LA Times article on Casual Vacancy.  As always, he says just the right thing and very well.

Chicago Tribune ‘Printer’s Row’ Preview of ‘Casual Vacancy’: Searching for Signs of a Maturing Potter Fandom at LeakyCon

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz wrote a feature article in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune that is nominally about Casual Vacancy‘s appearance in four weeks and substantially about the state of Joanne Rowling’s readership, a status gauged after conversations with a few Potter Pundits (friend-of-this-blog Suzanne Keen and myself, among others) and with the thousands gathered at Leaky Con this August.

Titled ‘Under a literary spell: J.K. Rowling is about to publish her first adult novel. Have her ‘Harry Potter’ fans grown up to be book lovers?,’ it is well worth your time — a thoughtful piece touching on quite a few topical bases as well as being wonderfully open in letting the many voices of fandom speak for themselves about what Harry has meant to them and what they are reading now.

Is this the first of many articles we can expect about Casual Vacancy? I think that is a very safe bet. Here’s the problem: we cannot speculate at any depth or length (well, not at depth at least!) about what the book will actually involve because it’s not preceded by novels in a series and all we have been told is that Vacancy is an “adult work.” Get ready for all kinds of creative approaches online and in traditional media to discussing this subject, consequently, as Publication Day nears.

Vacancy is #23 at Amazon, 1 of only 3 books in the Top 100 that are not yet in print, and #393 in the Paid Kindle Store. Nothing Potter-esque about those numbers but we’re a month out…

Casual Vacancy: A Month Until ‘The New Rowling’

The countdown began months ago but I begin to feel real anticipation when we are one or two lunar cycles away from the appearance of Casual Vacancy, Joanne Rowling’s first post Hogwarts Saga novel. It doesn’t hurt that men like Bruce Charlton, friend of this blog, has posted his thoughts on Ms Rowling as a writer in the form of “predictions” about Vacancy. He doesn’t actually make any predictions per se about what the book will contain or be about but he is much more enthused than he was at the publisher’s announcement of the title. Let me try to be more specific with my crystal ball to re-start the ball rowling, if you will, here.

I think it all comes down to the meaning of “adult novel,” the big difference between Vacancy and Harry Potter. I’d assume “adult” means at least five things akin to an ‘R’ rating in films, that is, ‘what keeps the movie from earning the coveted G-is-for-Disney rating.’

[Read more…]